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Henry Ford Museum Greenfield Village IMAX Theater Ford Rouge Factory Tour Benson Ford Research Center Tina Glengary Experi...
Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending The Henry Ford is the history attra...
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Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending Yes, I admit it. I’m biased…but I s...
Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending No, I don’t think I’m biased. Send ...
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Henry Ford Museum Greenfield Village IMAX Theater Ford Rouge Factory Tour Benson Ford Research Center Tina Glengary Experi...
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Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation is Important

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2003 Visitor Studies Association Presentation (Columbus, OHIO) with Gretchen Overhiser

Not everyone has the budget or time to hire consultants to do evaluation. In addition, most institutions have talented people on staff who know visitors, have experience with evaluation from unexpected places and might even know how to do data analysis. Why not do the evaluation yourself?

In this light-hearted session, we discourage you from torturing yourself with studies that are unnecessarily complicated and may yield more information than you even need. Instead, we invite you to be creative and to use simple ways to get information from your visitors. We will not provide a step-by-step tutorial on how to conduct visitor studies. We do not believe that one process works for everyone. Instead, this session will investigate a number of topics including assembling teams that involve evaluators, tackling bias, conducting fun visitor studies and interpreting results.

Evaluators have had mixed success serving on project teams. Some institutions believe their role is essential for moving the project vision forward. At others, evaluators only supply teams with data without helping to implement meaningful changes. On scientific teams in research laboratories, research scientists not only disseminate data but also provide essential vision for project teams. Museum evaluators can serve a similar role in providing essential data but also helping to shape project development in order to deliver a finished product that meets the goals of the institution in addition to those of visitors.

Evaluator bias is another obstacle to manage for in-house evaluation. Some people can easily shift from evaluator to exhibit developer to project manager to program coordinator while maintaining a clear focus on their role. Others are most effective promoting the work of the evaluators, funneling appropriate tasks to evaluators or facilitating meaningful discussions about the data. We feel that it is important to recognize your unique evaluation skill-set to promote every aspect of the visitor agenda.

Drawing from existing literature and our creativity, we have used some evaluation techniques other than interviews, questionnaires or tracking. We have found that the visitor studies techniques that we get the most excited about are usually the ones that get the most enthusiastic response from our visitors. For example, "Photo Sorts" give visually-minded visitors reference points for their opinions. "Word Association" elicits qualitative data from visitors, but also allows for simple comparison across a large data set. "Directed Label Testing" asks visitors to zero in on problematic areas of draft labels.

We encourage you to try out "quick and dirty" visitor studies to get an initial impression of what visitors may be thinking. Within a few interviews, you may begin to see trends in your data. At that point, your institution can decide if the in-house evaluator has the time, expertise and appropriate budget to conduct a more rigorous study.

With expertise coming from diverse backgrounds (everything from library science to anthropology to marketing) and a willingness to work with others to tackle bias, in-house evaluators have the capability to execute visitor studies that will provide useful, valid and high-quality data.

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Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation is Important

  1. 1. Henry Ford Museum Greenfield Village IMAX Theater Ford Rouge Factory Tour Benson Ford Research Center Tina Glengary Experience Design
  2. 2. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending The Henry Ford is the history attraction that brings the American Experience to life. Henry Ford Museum Greenfield Village IMAX Theatre Ford Rouge Factory Tour Benson Ford Research Center
  3. 3. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending <ul><li>For visitors – Experience Design </li></ul><ul><li>For ourselves – How to evaluate at The Henry Ford </li></ul><ul><li>For the process – What does it mean </li></ul>
  4. 4. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending Who’s on our teams? Project Manager Venue Liaison Experience Developer Who evaluates? No Evaluation Department Team Members Non-Team Members
  5. 5. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending bias n. 1. a. Preference or inclination that inhibits impartial judgment; prejudice. b. A specified instance of this. Bias exists in exhibit development. Bias exists in developing evaluation tools. Bias exists in data collection. Bias exists in data analysis.
  6. 6. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending <ul><li>Are you biased? </li></ul><ul><li>When you do evaluation, do you have an idea of what visitors will say? </li></ul><ul><li>Do people hear you in meetings say “Visitors will love…” ? </li></ul><ul><li>When you develop experiences are you thinking about a 60-year-old man and a 7-year-old girl at the same time? Or are you really thinking about what you would like? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you repeat what visitors say about your exhibits or do you interpret what they said? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending Yes, I admit it. I’m biased…but I still want to help. Evaluation Goal Developer Evaluation Senior Management Liaison Evaluation Records Manager Evaluation Report Writer Data Collector Aide
  8. 8. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending No, I don’t think I’m biased. Send me in coach… Refer back to the evaluation goals. Use a partner. Deliver the visitors’ message. Usually, the results speak for themselves.
  9. 9. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending <ul><li>Easy Tips to Avoid Bias </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t think of yourself as a visitor. You are not a visitor. You are a museum professional. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop your evaluation instruments with care. Biased questions will lead to biased answers and biased results. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t say a word. Body language can give you away. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Always check your work with someone else. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending <ul><li>DIY-ers </li></ul><ul><li>Check Assumptions </li></ul><ul><li>Involve Visitors </li></ul><ul><li>Find Trends </li></ul><ul><li>vs. The “Professionals” </li></ul><ul><li>Discover What We Don’t Know </li></ul><ul><li>Research Broad Questions </li></ul><ul><li>Offer a Greater Level of Objectivity </li></ul>
  11. 11. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending <ul><li>What to Avoid </li></ul><ul><li>Overly Complicated Studies </li></ul><ul><li>“ Touchy” Topics </li></ul><ul><li>A Huge Time Commitment </li></ul>
  12. 12. Do It Yourself! In-House Evaluation Is Important What is… Why DIY? Teams Bias Trending <ul><li>Trending (a.k.a. quick and dirty visitor studies) </li></ul><ul><li>Small Sample Size </li></ul><ul><li>Variable Questions </li></ul><ul><li>Fun Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Expectation to Follow Up </li></ul>
  13. 13. Henry Ford Museum Greenfield Village IMAX Theater Ford Rouge Factory Tour Benson Ford Research Center Tina Glengary Experience Design

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